Umrah pilgrims told to remain patient over Saudi Arabia’s travel suspension

Travel agents such as Tradewinds are currently waiting for information from the govt of Saudi Arabia

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by AFP

TOUR and travel agents that offer packages for Umrah pilgrims are advising customers to remain patient on the news of foreign arrivals’ suspension from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Tradewinds Travel Services Sdn Bhd Umrah department head Zulhasymi Hamidon said the authorities of the kingdom have not stated the period of which the suspension will last.

“However, because we are unsure for how long this situation will persist, we and other travel agents affirmed that future pilgrims are advised to be patient for now.

“We are waiting for more information and further updates in regards to this as we will further inform our customers if changes are made in the near future,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

He said as the announcement was made at midnight in Saudi Arabia’s time, flights to Mekah, Jeddah and Madinah and the use of Umrah or tourist visa will be considered prohibited temporarily.

“Travel agents such as Tradewinds are currently waiting for the black and white information from the government of Saudi Arabia,” he said.

The kingdom issued a directive yesterday that due to the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Saudi Arabia, it has immediately suspended the use of Umrah and visitor visas for all nationalities temporarily, while tourist visas have also been suspended for all passengers from Malaysia and Singapore.

The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Singapore has also issued a notice stating the temporary suspension of foreigners from entering the kingdom, as well as having stopped issuing any visas for the purpose of Umrah and visiting the Holy Prophet’s mosque.

“We would also like to inform that as a precautionary measure to prevent the outbreak of the virus, anyone holding a tourist visa will be prevented from entering the cities of Makkah and Madinah, as well as suspending the entry to the kingdom with tourist visas for those coming from countries where the emergence of the Covid-19 is precarious,” the notice said.

It included China, Iran, Italy, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Lebanon and Syria among others in the list.

According to the Foreign Ministry of Saudi Arabia, exceptions are made for Saudi nationals who left the kingdom by using their national identity cards and Gulf Cooperation Council countries’ citizens wishing to return from Saudi Arabia after entering with their national identity cards.

“Saudi Arabia stresses that these measures are temporary and subject to continuous evaluation by the relevant authorities.

“The kingdom also renews its support for all international measures to limit the spread of this virus, and urged its citizens to exercise caution before travelling to countries experiencing the outbreak,” it stated.